I came across a blog the other day that caught my attention just by the words “Creating Unforgettable Flooring Experiences.” That is a question that is on every retailer’s mind. “How do I create more foot traffic?” “How do we create an experience that creates more business?” “How can we stand out from other businesses?” “What makes us unique?” All very good questions. With a little help from Christine B. Whittmore and Tom Jennings the flooring guru these are some questions that we hope to help you with.
1) Accept that products alone can’t really differentiate you.
Tom Jennings explains, “Your staff is the only truly unique offering that your company has to sell.” You may have the best looking LVT and a large selection of carpet and hardwood. But, without a team of dedicated and passionate employees to bring those products to life you are no different than your competition.
The way you sell, install and follow-up are your true differentiators. Only a superior service experience to your consumers can distinguish your store from competitors.
In todays day and age, consumers use the internet to be more efficient in their purchases. They check out your website, social media and customer reviews. They want to know enough to ask the right questions in their visit to your store. If a consumer walks into your store, they have pre-selected you not just because of the product you have to offer.
2) Tile, carpet and flooring installation is a true service differentiator.
Flooring is not completely sold until they are installed in the customer’s home. Tile is beautiful but its only a contemplation until it is a floor, wall, or backsplash. These products take on beauty and usefulness to customers when properly installed.
Product installation represents an opportunity to develop a relationship that paves the way for additional product and service sales. It is important to implement installation into your selling process. It is not an afterthought so don’t keep it away from the sales floor. It represents a critical service experience.
3) Don’t be satisfied with your service experience.
Receiving results that you are you are satisfied with is only the beginning. You should constantly be thinking about ways to improve your systems, provide better training, and evolve with the new technologies and standards for installation.
4) Quality is never an accident.
Great companies take control of the expectation for consistent and high quality by developing ongoing training and education. Do not assume employees with know the latest installation standards or expect them to self-train. Reward improved performance by passing on compliments and say Thank You for doing things right. Focus on what matters to customers.
5) Make sure customer handoffs don’t break down.
The experience begins with your sales person then moves on to measurement and installation. Everyone has a role in ensuring that the exchange or takes place smoothly. If one handoff fails, the whole experience is broken. What process do you have in place for supporting smooth transitions?
6) Customers want to know what you do well.
Make sure your entire company knows what you do well, the role each individual plays, and constantly communicating that message. Rather than price-matching your competition, focus on why your company and your staff is unique. Be human. Ensure your marketing, your website, brochures, sales process, installation services and follow-up reflect your one of a kind way of doing business.
Consumers will pay for piece of mind. They are allowing you and your installation crew into their house. They want to count on and trust that all will go as planned.
7) Look for opportunities to customize.
Consumers will pay to have things done their way. Customization is a point of separation from the competition and specialized installation costs more. Do you have pieces in your store that shows these customized looks and what you can do? Ordinarily installation services generate more than the goods themselves.
8) Make sure your flooring installation staff looks and acts professional.
A first class installation staff looks and acts professionally. What image does that staff project to customers?
According to Jennings complaints cost between 2-4% of a stores annual revenue because our industry tends to embrace a “fix it if they complain attitude” attitude toward installation. It is better to support and train your installation staff rather that spending money on inspectors and complaints.
9) Welcome ALL Feedback
Customer reviews are a treasure trove of knowledge. Even complaints.
Jennings states that 5 out of 6 customers service calls were from poor communication and expectations that aren’t met. Always thank these customers for calling.
Complaints also come from customers that ordered the wrong product and are not happy with how their installation looks. Don’t rush a consumer. Make sure they are happy and comfortable with the product they have chosen.
10) Create a high level of confidence for your customers.
First impressions leave lasting images. For that reason, plan to impress your customers.
- Call them to let them know you will be on time, and what you are driving. This creates a high level of confidence.
- Look sharp. Feel sharp. As a society, we respect crisp uniforms.
- Act and look like you know what you’re doing.
We perform to a higher level when we are perceived to be more capable. Remember that it’s the customer’s initial impression that matters!
11) Always be meticulous about completing a customer job.
Finally, when it comes to completing a customer job, what is your process? How does your staff leave?
According to Tom.
- Installers should always leave a business card upon completion. It makes them accountable.
- Be sure to do a walk-through with the customer.
- Address any problems on site: have a plan, explain full details, including time expectations.
- Sales personnel should always follow-up with customers within 24 hours of completion, giving them enough time to experience the job. When you call, use a positive tone; say “I trust we did…” (vs. I hope).
- Ask for referrals.
To put this stage into perspective, artists always sign their work. What kind of a signature do you leave on your work?